WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) confirmed to Breitbart News that it will continue to work with “proven UN partners” to aid persecuted Christians, despite Vice President Mike Pence’s claims that the Trump administration would pursue direct aid.
Vice President Pence said last week at the In Defense of Christians summit in Washington, DC, that President Donald Trump had ordered the State Department to stop funding United Nations humanitarian programs to help persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and beyond.
“The United Nations has too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities,” Pence said. “The result has been that countless people continue to suffer and struggle needlessly.”
“My friends, those days are over,” Pence proclaimed.
But when Breitbart News asked the agency about Pence’s announcement, an official at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said it will continue to work with “proven UN partners.”
“The United States will continue to provide life-saving, needs-based humanitarian assistance – in Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere around the world – through a range of partners, including NGOs, faith-based organizations, and proven U.N. partners all of which have demonstrated effectiveness and accountability with U.S. taxpayer dollars,” the USAID official told Breitbart News.
The official did acknowledge that “a new initiative” is being shaped at the State Department that relates to humanitarian aid that the U.S. provides around the world.
“The administration is exploring options for how to better ensure our assistance effectively reaches vulnerable communities in the Middle East such as ethnic and religious minorities, not only through international organizations such as United Nations but also by working through non-governmental organizations and minority communities themselves,” the official said.
“This new initiative does not apply to all UN programs,” the official said. “The United States will continue to work with the United Nations as well as other international partners to respond to pressing crises in the Middle East and around the world.”
Pence’s remarks, however, seemed a more pointed decision to bypass the U.N. and provide aid “directly.”
Pence called it a “sad reality” that the main U.N. presence in terror-ridden countries like Syria and Iraq is their flag posted on abandoned buildings in places where persecuted Christians are not even present.
“And while faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in these communities are more than willing to assist, the United Nations too often denies their funding requests,” Pence said.
“From this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID,” Pence said.
“We will no longer rely on the United Nations alone to assist persecuted Christians and minorities in the wake of genocide and the atrocities of terrorist groups,” Pence said. “The United States will work hand-in-hand from this day forward with faith-based groups and private organizations to help those who are persecuted for their faith.”
The State Department provides two kinds of aid: emergency humanitarian aid such as food, shelter, and medical treatment; and “stabilization” aid focused on helping displaced populations return to their communities.
The USAID official also told Breitbart News that, in the fiscal year 2017, State/USAID provided almost $5.7 billion to U.N. organizations from the humanitarian assistance accounts.